One offender, Little Caesars Pizza, was recently sued by one of its managers in Orange County for refusing to provide benefits for a manager's legally married husband. Because Little Caesars self-insures, it believes that it is not bound by California laws requiring that legally married gay couples be treated the same as heterosexual couples with respect to insurance benefits for spouses.
Under Little Caesar's policy, a "spouse" is defined as "the one person whom you are legally married under the laws of the state in which you reside, including common law spouse, and who is the opposite gender from you."
As the largest former franchisee of Little Caesars Pizza, I am appalled by the company's decision not to extend partner benefits to married same-sex couples. I am an openly gay man who has finally been allowed to legally marry my partner of 25 years. During the time that I owned my franchise, I paid out millions of dollars to the Ilitch family in royalties, franchise costs, and marketing fees. I can attest that there were a high percentage of gay workers in my franchise. What would Little Caesars have done if those workers were not available?
The discrimination by Little Caesars toward the gay men and women who work for the company highlights just how far we need to go to receive the same rights as heterosexual couples, even in gay friendly states like California. This kind of discrimination should not stand! Little Caesars needs to learn the same lesson that Chik-fil-A is learning, and the Ilitch family needs to pull their heads out of the 1950s and acknowledge that gay workers are vital to their company.
I am a businessman, not an attorney, so I won't weigh in on the merits of the lawsuit. What I do know is that the surest way to get discriminatory business owners to treat gay people with the equality and respect we deserve is to hit them where it hurts -- in the pocketbook. Therefore, I am calling on Californians to join me in a boycott of Little Caesars until it stops discriminating against its employees on the basis of their sexual orientation.